University of Oulu

Laine, A. M., Korrensalo, A., & Tuittila, E.-S. (2022). Plant functional traits play the second fiddle to plant functional types in explaining peatland CO2 and CH4 gas exchange. Science of The Total Environment, 834, 155352.

Plant functional traits play the second fiddle to plant functional types in explaining peatland CO2 and CH4 gas exchange

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Author: Laine, Anna M.1,2,3; Korrensalo, Aino1,4,5; Tuittila, Eeva-Stiina1
Organizations: 1School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014, Finland
3Geological Survey of Finland, P.O Box 1237, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
4Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), Yliopistokatu 6 B, FI-80100 Joensuu, Finland
5Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-10-11


Peatlands constitute a significant soil carbon (C) store, yet the C gas flux components show distinct spatial variation both between and within peatlands. Determining the controls on this variability could aid in our understanding of the response of peatlands to global changes. In this study, we assess the usefulness of different vegetation related parameters to explain spatial variation in peatland C gas flux components. We hypothesise that spatial variation is best explained by trait-based indices (similarly to other terrestrial ecosystems), and that the impact of soil physicochemical properties, such as nitrogen (N) content or water level, can be manifested through the traits. Furthermore, we expect that the spatial variability associated with each of the C gas flux components can be explained by a distinct set of traits. To address our aim, we used a successional peatland chronosequence from wet meadows to a bog, along which all variables were recorded with similar methods and under similar climatic conditions.

We observed spatial variability with all measured gas fluxes, with carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes showing significant variability between sites, while within site variability was more important for methane (CH4) fluxes. As expected, our results show that the impacts of physicochemical conditions were directed via vegetation. However, the cover of functional plant types that capture multiple traits proved to be more powerful in explaining gas flux variability compared to functional trait-based indices. Our findings imply that for future gas flux modelling purposes, rather than attempting to use individual traits — as is the ongoing trend in ecology — it might be more useful to refine plant functional groupings and ensure they are based on a set of plant traits relevant for the studied ecosystem process. This could be facilitated by the collation of a large data set of traits measured from peatlands.

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Series: Science of the total environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
ISSN-E: 1879-1026
ISSN-L: 0048-9697
Volume: 834
Article number: 155352
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155352
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: Funding from Kone Foundation and Academy of Finland (287039, 330840, 338980) is acknowledged.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary data to this article can be found online at
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (